Governance Context of Higher Education Sector of Pakistan.


Byline: Syed Sohaib Zubair, Nasira Jabeen, Yaamina Salman, Muhammad Zahid and Sidra Irfan


This script covers the public sector governance context of Pakistan with particlar reference to the higher education sector and establishment of Higher Education Commission (HEC) and its context. It discusses various development in the higher education system followed by the formation of Provincial Higher Education Commissions (PHECs) and governance structures after the 18th amendment in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Governance context is the holistic arena which shapres institutional mechanisms where an entity operates. The paper postulates on wider historical and present perspectives in which the governance structure and culture of Pakistani public sector operates. These perspectives not only influence the operations of the government but also effect the policy making and development initiatves. The context helps in explaning the issues associated with policy implementation and its issues in the Pakistani public sector.

As Andrews (2008) points out that policies and plans may not "replicate" rightly in various contexts, as the enviornment, challenges vary from culture to culture and if such an attempt is made, reforms "end up resembling proverbs that fit poorly in the wrong context and contradict one another" (Andrews, 2008, p.380). Therefore, in order to comprehend a reform and its implementation challenges, it is important to understand the context in which the stakeholders are operating.

The history of governance mechanisms in Pakistan can be traced into the colonial and post colonial era in the sub-continent. According to the literature, since independence, not much change has been observed in Pakistan with reference to the administraion and roles of government. Rather, the state always looked upon to the international trends that were advocated by the international developmental institutions, may it be the development administration, development management or development governance period (Jadoon et al., 2012; Turner et al., 2015). Taking the lead from that above classification, the write up discusses the evolution from traditional public administration in Pakistan to the present new public governance period when the major changes in higher education system of the country were initiated and implemented.

These changes exist till date with further developments associated with it partciulary with the advent of 18th Constitutional Amendement through which both education and health were declared as provincial subjects and Provincial Higher Education Commissions were established. After discussing the context with reference to this study, the paper points to some salient factors that may be responsible for reform failures in the country and suggest policy guidelines in this direction.

Colonial and Post Colonial Era

Pakistan became an independent state in 1947, when the British rule in Indian Sub-Continent ended. Pakistan being a new state with weak structures of governance and very limited resources adopted most of the systems of British India and continued to work on those systems. Colonialism has had a strong influence on post-independent Pakistan. The main features of the British system in sub-continent were control and law and order oriented in connection with revenue collection. The bureaucratic system and administrative structures were designed accordingly in such a way that they fulfilled the objectives of rulers of that time. Irony is that, those systems and structures were so strong and exhibited high path dependency (along with self-interests of some groups) that they could not be modified over time and continued to operate in the same manner.

Several reforms initiatives were intended and introduced during different regimes but majority of them could not deliver due to no-contextualized solutions (Zubair et al., 2015). Hence, most of the policy development continued the old way and due to congruency with western systems, the administrative structures and administrators found it relatively easy to adapt reforms and policies that came as solutions from foreign consultants or donor agencies.

Since, bureaucratic and administrative structure of Pakistan continued from the British era, the training of the bureaucrats was continued in the same lines till date, the purpose of their training (language and professional) was uniformity and compliance towards rulers and controlling the masses. This resulted in lack of accountability, abuse of power and rejection of reform inititaves. The literature rviewed in the paper focusses on the role of Colonialism in state and governance structures of Pakistan in general along with various changes introduced in the country over time. The situation clearly points to the contextual in congruency and associated issues with it in terms of mismatch in desired and actual results.

Similarly, the idea of modernization of bureaucracy can be seen from this lens. New Public Management has been reflected in Pakistan's bureaucracy, by bureaucracy the authors refer the entire administrative system of which Education departments and provicial governmental offices are part of and as per Haque (1998) modernization of the bureaucracy, bureaucratic structures and bureaucratic values in the third world countries or developing Southeast Asian countries have mostly been in the direction of new public management and market oriented principles. The ultimate changes and direction being set is majorly based on legitimacy from the modern world and developmental financial institutions i.e. IMF, World Bank etc.

The term in the post 2000 world used now is Good Governance, as a new and critical approach to government where rule of law should prevail and governments role is limited to steering of certain services with a uniform direction. But in reality, still in the developing South Asian Countries, regimes place loyalists in positions of power and interest and the actual norms of a good government are ignored (Huque, 2001). Similarly, referring to Pakistan in particular, Jabeen (2006), argues that the concept of good governacne is a good philosophy but needs to be "indigenized" as done by Dr Mahbubul Haq in the form of humane governance.

The following sections of the article provides a general overview of the administrative/governance context of Pakistan's public sector with reference to the three broad classifications or categories used by Turner et al. (2015) and Jadoon et al. (2012) and broader reform or governance trends in the country since 1947.

Public Sector Reform Trends in Pakistan

Using the classification given by Turner et al. (2015) and Jadoon et al. (2012), public sector reforms in Pakistan can be classified into three (Turner et al., 2015) to four (Jadoon et al., 2012) forms with reference to time period from 1947 to 2010 and beyond. First phase of governance with refrerence to reforms and development according to Jadoon et al. (2012) was from 1947 to 1970 where initially the colonail legacy was maintained and the entire development agenda and development or reform programs were state driven (Maheshwari, 1974; Zahra and Jadoon, 2016) and using the classification given by Turner et al. (2015), Jadoon et al. (2012) labelled this era as that of "development administration". This era of mode of development or reform was that of typical public administration (bureacuracy), elitist based and was inspired by the western mechanims of develop ment in developing countries including Pakistan.

This administrative period also included development that was supported by donor agencies and was a clear picture of what was called civil-military oligarchy (Jalal, 1991).

The second time period in the governance history of Pakistan was from 1972-1977 and it was called the era of development enterprise (Jadoon et al. 2012). This was a unique period in Pakistan where the focus of...

To continue reading